Online video games and patient–staff power relations: A qualitative study of care and custody in forensic psychiatry

Morten Deleuran Terkildsen*, Harry Kennedy, Christian Haurdahl Jentz, Lisbeth Uhrskov Sørensen

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


What is known on the subject?: Frontline forensic mental health staff often face challenges when providing recovery-orientated care, as they must balance between caring for the forensic psychiatric patient and at the same time ensuring safety and security for all other patients and staff at the ward. Research shows that balancing between care and custody in everyday clinical practice is possible, but more practical nursing studies showing ways of balancing power relations are needed to guide clinical practice. Online video games are increasingly recognized as promising new tools to promote social relations, establish competencies and re-articulate power relations in therapeutic environments. What the paper adds to existing knowledge?: This paper provides insights into how using online video gaming interventions may influence the establishment of social power relations of staff and forensic psychiatric patients. It adds to existing research by providing a conceptual way to study and understand how mental health nurses may balance between care and custody, delivering care to accommodate patients' needs without compromising safety and security at the ward. This study answers a call in current research by providing qualified knowledge regarding the use of online video gaming to build and sustain therapeutic relations in mental health care. What are the implications for practice?: Our paper suggests that balancing between care and custody is possible by using online video gaming interventions in forensic psychiatry. It moreover provides practice-close knowledge that may inspire and guide clinical mental health nurses to further develop online video gaming interventions in mental health care for the benefit of their patients. Abstract: Introduction In recovery-oriented care, forensic psychiatric nurses must engage in care relationships with forensic psychiatric patients (FPs) whilst focussing on ward security. Online video games (OVGs) may provide a platform for negotiating power and social relations. Studies showing how OVG interventions may influence power balances in forensic psychiatric care are needed to guide clinical practice. Aim Our aim was to study how power relations were articulated between FPs and staff in an OVG intervention in a Danish forensic psychiatric ward. Method Data consist of three months of observational data and interviews with three staff members and six patients. We used sociologist Pierre Bourdieu's framework of field, power and capital to analyze data. Results The OVG intervention consisted of two power fields, “in-game” and “over-game.” In-game concerned the practice of gaming. Over-game described the organization of the gaming intervention. Specific logics, skills and symbolic capitals drove power in each field. Discussion Power in-game was open to FPs and staff, leading to symmetric power relations. Power over-game was open to staff only, resulting in asymmetrical power relations. Implications for practice Online video game interventions may facilitate power balancing in forensic psychiatry. These insights may guide the development of new OVG interventions for patients and nurses in mental health care.

TidsskriftJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Sider (fra-til)493-503
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2022


Dyk ned i forskningsemnerne om 'Online video games and patient–staff power relations: A qualitative study of care and custody in forensic psychiatry'. Sammen danner de et unikt fingeraftryk.